Travel agents help travelers sort through vast amounts of information to help them make the best possible travel arrangements. They offer advice on destinations and make arrangements for transportation, hotel accommodations, car rentals, and tours for their clients. They are also the primary source of bookings for most of the major cruise lines. In addition, resorts and specialty travel groups use travel agents to promote travel packages to their clients.
Travel agents are also increasingly expected to know about and be able to advise travelers about their destinations, such as the weather conditions, local ordinances and customs, attractions, and exhibitions. For those traveling internationally, agents also provide information on customs regulations, required papers (passports, visas, and certificates of vaccination), travel advisories, and currency exchange rates. In the event of changes in itinerary in the middle of a trip, travel agents intercede on the traveler’s behalf to make alternate booking arrangements.
Travel agents use a variety of
published and computer-based sources for information on departure and arrival
times, fares, quality of hotel accommodations, and group discounts. They may
also visit hotels, resorts, and restaurants themselves to evaluate the comfort,
cleanliness, and the quality of specific hotels and restaurants so that they
can base recommendations on their own experiences or those of colleagues or
Travel agents who primarily work for tour operators and other travel arrangers may help develop, arrange, and sell the company’s own package tours and travel services. They may promote these services, using telemarketing, direct mail, and the Internet. They make presentations to social and special-interest groups, arrange advertising displays, and suggest company-sponsored trips to business managers.
Today, Travel Agencies have been recognised as a vital component of travel and tourism and have become an integral part of travel and tourism industry at global. They Account for more than 90% of international and 70% of domestic tourist traffic. Further, more than 60% of all travel agency revenues are derived from the business travel. Most travel agencies sell both commercial and leisure travel but there is many travel agencies which only specialize in one sector or the other.
The operation of each travel agency is based on the scope of its activities and organisational size. In this chapter we will discuss the functions of a large scale travel’ agency that performs all types of activities such as retail TA, whole selling and tour operations etc.
Travel Agency which provides travel information through online mode by own websites are known as online travel agency. As more and more people have the access to the internet nowadays, the need for travel agencies has declined as the airline companies have started to sell products directly to the customers online. As a result, many agencies have started their own website with details of the travel information. These websites use high end technology travel solutions which help them to deal with the latest updates and details of thousands of hotels, flights and car rental services.
Some of these websites also provide options that allow the users to compare flight and hotel rates with other companies. The travel agencies have used dynamic packaging utilities, which has helped them provide services that are fully bonded at the same prices and sometimes even lower than the online booking sites. All the online sites work with different travel agencies, which provides them with more efficiency once a customer orders a ticket or books a hotel.